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ISRAEL MOBOLAJI ADESANYA : THE LAST STYLEBENDER

By : Arinze Nwachukwu A.

Before now, combat sports audience especially in Nigeria are mostly exposed or interested in regular combat sports such as: taekwondo, boxing, catch wrestling, fencing, karate, kickboxing, judo etc.

Mixed Martial Arts is a regulated full contact combat sport between two fighters trained in various martial arts form. Mixed Martial Arts or MMA involves both stand up and ground fighting so it employs both striking and grappling techniques from a variety of different martial arts style such as boxing, submission fighting, catch wrestling, judo, kickboxing, karate as well as others. It is just a freestyle martial arts that has a blend of all other combat sports or martial arts technique. Mixed martial arts are extremely popular nowadays even in Nigeria, but in actuality MMA has been around for a very long time. As a matter of fact, mixed martial arts dates back to the Greco-Roman era (332 BC -395 AD) where the ancient martial art penetration appeared in the Olympic Games.

However, mixed martial arts of today are considered to be one of the most regulated and controlled sports in the world. It was not until 1993 when mixed martial arts were first introduced to the United States through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC is owned and operated by parent company William Morris Endeavor. It is the largest MMA promotion company in the world and features the highest-level fighters on the roster.

The UFC produces events worldwide that showcases twelve weight divisions and abide by the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. As of 2018, the UFC has held over 400 events. Dana White serves as the president of the UFC. White has held that position since 2001; while under his stewardship, the UFC has grown into a globally popular multi-billion- dollar enterprise. UFC’s first event was held in 1993 at the McNichol’s Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. UFC have become a household name in the Mixed Martial Arts business so much so that, many mention UFC while referring to M MA.

Nigeria-born Israel Adesanya believes he can knockout American Kelvin Gastelum in the UFC’s interim middleweight belt title fight holding at the State Farm Arena, Atlanta, United States.

Most recently, MMA appeals to sports-loving Nigerians because UFC features our own Israel Mobolaji Adesanya on her list of MMA superstars. Israel Mobolaji Adesanya is a Nigerian-born New Zealand professional mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and boxer. He is the former Glory middleweight contender winner and King in the Ring two-time cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, which is the highest title in the Ring history. He goes with a nickname “The Last Stylebender”. He competes for the UFC and he is the Interim Middleweight Champion.

Adesanya knocked Brian Minto out of the ring during their boxing match in 2015

Adesanya was born on the 22nd day of July, 1989 in Lagos, Nigeria. He is the eldest of 5 children born to his mother Taiwo Adesanya (a nurse) and to his father Femi Adesanya (an accountant). The Nigeria and New Zealand national of Yoruba ethnicity was partly raised in Lagos state Nigeria by his upper-class family. He grew up in  the city as a happy kid alongside his siblings: Deborah, Samuel, David and Bolu. While he was a kid, Adesanya had the privilege of participating in any sports of his choice and he chose Taekwondo.

The youngster trained in the sport for a while before his concerned mother withdrew him from the sports after he fractured his arm. Adesanya had his primary or basic education at Chrisland School Opebi in Ikeja, Lagos state, Nigeria. Thereafter, he progressed to Bells Secondary School in Ota, Ogun state, Nigeria for his high school education. While he was at the respective schools, Adesanya juggled interests between martial arts and dancing as well as discovered a rhythmical connection that harmonized both activities.

At the age of 13, he moved to Rotorua, New Zealand, and attended Rotorua Boys’ High School. He started training in kickboxing at the age of 18 after being inspired by the Muay Thai film Ong-Bak and went on to amass an amateur kickboxing record of 32-0 prior to moving and fighting in China. He uses an orthodox free flowing but effective style of mixed martial arts. Adesanya made his professional debut in 2012. Fighting in Hong Kong, Australia and China. The next five-and-a-half years saw him amassed a record of 11-0 with all wins coming via KO/TKO priorto being signed by the UFC.

Isreal Adesanya’s Parents

In December 2017, it was announced that Adesanya had signed with the UFC. He made his debut against Rob Wilkinson on February 11, 2018, at UFC 221. He won the fight via TKO in the second round. The win earned him the performance of the Night bonus. Adesanya’s next fight was on April 14, 2018, against Marvin Vettori at UFC on Fox 29. He won fight via split decision. Adesanya faced Brad Tavares on July 6, 2018, at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale. Adesanya won by the one-sided fight by unanimous decision. The win earned him the performance of the Night award. Adesanya faced Derek Brunson on November 3, 2018, at UFC 230. He won the fight via technical knockout in round one. The win earned him the performance of the Night award.

Isreal Adesanya as a child and an adult

Adesanya fought Anderson Silva on February 10, 2019, at UFC 234. He won the fight via unanimous decision. The fight earned him the Fight of the Night award. Adesanya squared up with Kelvin Gastelum for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship on April 13, 2019, at UFC 236. He won the fight via unanimous decision. The fight earned him the Fight of the Night award. Adesanya is scheduled to face Robert Whittaker on October 6, 2019 at UFC 243.

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